US-led Coalition Hands over Military Base outside Baghdad to Iraqi Forces
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US-led Coalition Hands over Military Base outside Baghdad to Iraqi Forces

ERBIL — The US-led Coalition against the Islamic State, officially known as the Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTS-OIR), on Saturday handed over the Besmayah military base in south of Baghdad to the Iraqi forces.

“Due to the Iraqi security forces’ success in the campaign against Daesh [Islamic State], the Coalition is adjusting its positioning and focus in Iraq,” the CJTS-OIR said in a statement.

Around 20 Spanish soldiers had been stationed at the base to train the Iraqi forces and support the army in its campaign against the Islamic State.

The Besmayah base was targeted on Friday with four Katyusha rockets by unidentified groups.

However, according to the Coalition’s statement, the handover of the base was not related to the attack, but it was “long-planned in coordination with the Government of Iraq.”

Since earlier this year, this was the seventh base handed over to the Iraqi forces in the country.

“Iraqi forces trained here were critical in the liberation of Mosul three years ago. Besmayah serves as a shining example of Iraqi military capability. The Coalition has supported the development of this facility, enabling the Iraqi military to deliver forces ready to root out the remnants of Daesh,” said Maj. Gen. Gerald Strickland, CJTF-OIR deputy commander for strategy.

Coalition activities at Besmayah were primarily led by the Spanish forces, who trained nearly 50,000 Iraqi military personnel at the site. In conjunction with their Portuguese partners, Spain’s military forces trained the ISF in a broad range of military tactics and programs. Courses quickly evolved into a “train-the-trainer” approach, with Iraqis assuming daily leadership and delivery of the programs. The Spanish contingent transferred and divested $4 million in classrooms, barracks, weapons ranges, mock urban training sites, and other facilities to the Government of Iraq. The United States contributed $1 million in power generation and base force protection materials and equipment, the statement added.

It also noted that the CJTF-OIR will continue to relocate and consolidate personnel and equipment from Iraqi bases throughout 2020, in cooperation with the Government of Iraq. The ISF increasingly conducts independent operations in the fight against IS and the defense of their homeland including the 2020 series of operations “Heroes of Iraq,” in which they have cleared thousands of kilometers to capture enemy fighters and equipment.

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